Plitvice lakes are the largest National Park in Croatia, with beauty and significance of its 16 lakes it was added in UNESCO World Heritage register in 1979. That almost 300 square kilometers wide area is mostly located in Lika-Senj County. Last time I was there with my best friend at winter, we almost payed the visit with our lives. This time, in much more secure fashion I’ve finally seen this beauty in Autumn colors.
This is the sight you’ll encounter at the very beginning, if you entered the National Park from Entrance 1. It blew us away, me and my friends. What would we give for a view like that through our window. I’ve seen the Lakes in Spring, I’ve seen them in Summer, even in Winter, but never in Autumn… and boy did I fall in love.
“Veliki Slap” (Big Waterfall) is the biggest waterfall in Plitvice, standing 78 meters high, very beautifully, misty and slippery. When I was underneath this big boy for the first time I was not more than a elementary school child and I remember that you could approach all the way underneath it. Of course, you would instantly get wet and the teacher would scream at you all the way back to Zagreb, but still – you could. Today, the bottom of the waterfall is off limits, but if you are agile enough one simple wooden fence won’t be too much of a problem.
The site offers visitors several hiking paths to walk through the park and I strongly suggest that you take the one as close to the water as possible. Some basic hiking footwear is recommended because you will get wet on a few places where rapids are bursting through the wooden bridges and pathways. In Summer, you might wanna welcome the refreshment.
The water is mirror clean and wherever you look you’re gonna see schools of trouts. Take a closer look around the submerged cattails and you might even see a pike fish stalking its prey.
I mentioned that it would do you good if you came with a hiking footwear, but also make sure to bring a flashlight. There is a smaller section within 30 minutes of walk from Veliki slap where you can explore caves. Do not try that in Winter though, they might be occupied as me and my friend discovered. What was in the cave we have no idea, we ran away. Fortunately for us, “it” didn’t follow.
However, if it is not winter and you do have a flashlight with you, go deeper in the cave and you’ll see that it is populated. At the end you’ll probably notice bats and cave critters. Spiders and those white-ish cave grasshoppers.
You’ll have to back track a little from the caves and return to the pathway by the lakes. Maintain direction towards Lake “Kozjak”. Cross the bridge and move towards Bistro “Kozjačka Draga”. With large open picnic area surrounded by cool forest, containing tons of tables and benches, it is a perfect place to grab something to eat and drink and take a short break. Make sure not to throw leftovers in bins, rather search for for few stray pups that are living there. They can use all the calories they can get for the upcoming winter. If I recall correctly, every 15 or 25 minutes there’s a electric boat ferry leading towards the Entrance no 2. If you have time before the sunset (take yourself at least 2 hours), ignore it and continue the path around the Kozjak lake by foot. If not, take the boat to the other side. Enjoy the ride.
Once you dock you have a choice to make. I strongly suggest a walk back to the entrance no 1 following the NE shore of Kozjak lake. In normal pace, it will take you about 45 minutes. Make sure to cut the direction from the “official” forest path, and make a small descent to the shore of the lake. The path is almost completely empty of tourists, and for the majority of the return trip you’ll have a quiet time for yourself and your thoughts.
LINKS to visit:
360 Virtual Tour
Thanks for walking with me. Have a lovely day.